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Russian official warns West of destruction for arming Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament warned on Sunday that countries supplying Ukraine with more powerful weapons risked their own destruction, a message that followed new promises of armored vehicles, air defense systems and other equipment, but not the battle tanks that Kyiv requested.

Ukraine supporters pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine on Friday, though the new pledges were overshadowed by failed defense leaders at an international meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, to agree on Ukraine’s urgent request for German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks.

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said governments giving more powerful weapons to Ukraine could cause a “global tragedy that would destroy their countries”.

“Supplying offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime would lead to a global catastrophe,” he said. “If Washington and NATO provide weapons that would be used to strike peaceful cities and attempt to seize our territory as they threaten to do, that would trigger retaliation with more powerful weapons.”

Germany is a major arms supplier to Ukraine, and it has ordered a review of its Leopard 2 stockpiles in preparation for a possible green light. Nonetheless, the Berlin government has been cautious at every step of increasing its commitments to Ukraine, a hesitation seen as rooted in its history. and political culture.

France and Germany pledge to show “unwavering support” in Ukraine during ceremonies and talks on Sunday celebrating the 60th anniversary of their post-World War II friendship treaty. In a joint statement, the countries said they “will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Germany’s timidity has drawn sharp criticism, especially from Poland and the Baltic states, countries on NATO’s eastern flank that Moscow has controlled in the past and feel particularly threatened by Russia’s renewed imperial ambitions. Russia.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that if Germany did not agree to transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine, his country was ready to form a “small coalition” of countries that would send theirs anyway.

“Almost a year has passed since the outbreak of the war,” Morawiecki said in an interview with the Polish news agency PAP published on Sunday. “Evidence of Russian military war crimes can be seen on TV and YouTube. What more does Germany need to open its eyes and start acting in accordance with the potential of the German state? »

“Above all, Berlin should not weaken or sabotage the activities of other countries,” Morawiecki said.

In Washington, two prominent lawmakers on Sunday urged the United States to send some of its Abrams tanks to Ukraine, to overcome Germany’s reluctance to share its own, more suitable Leopard 2 tanks.

“If we announced that we were giving away one Abrams tank, just one, that would trigger” the flow of tanks from Germany, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the AFP. ABC’s “This Week on Sunday”. “What I hear is that Germany expects us to take the lead.”

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and considered close to President Joe Biden, also spoke in favor of sending Abrams from the United States.

“I fear Russia is rearming and preparing for a spring offensive,” Coons said. “If it requires us to send Abrams tanks to unlock getting Leopard tanks from Germany, Poland, other allies, I would support that.”

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said the Ramstein meeting “leaves no doubt that our enemies will try to exhaust us or better destroy us”, adding that “they have enough weapons” to achieve this goal.

Medvedev, a former Russian president, has warned on his messaging app channel that Russia may seek to form a military alliance with enemies of the United States. He did not name the nations he had in mind, but Russia has defense cooperation with Iran and Venezuela, an existing military alliance with Belarus and close ties with North Korea. Since invading Ukraine, Russia has also increased both the scope and number of its joint military exercises with China.

“In the event of a protracted conflict, a new military alliance will emerge that will include nations that are fed up with Americans and a pack of their castrated dogs,” Medvedev said.

Ukraine is asking for more weapons as it expects Russian forces to launch a new offensive in the spring.

Oleksii Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, has warned that Russia may try to step up its attacks from the south and east and cut off Western arms supply channels, while the conquest of Kyiv “remains the main dream” of President Vladimir Putin. “fantasies,” he says.

In a column published by the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. he described the Kremlin’s objective in the conflict as “total and utter genocide, a war of total destruction”

Among those calling for more weapons for Ukraine was former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made a surprise trip to Ukraine on Sunday.

“Now is the time to redouble our efforts and give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job. The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and for the whole world,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson, who is facing new questions at home about his personal finances, was pictured in the Kyiv region town of Borodyanka. He said he visited Ukraine at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Last week was particularly tragic for Ukraine, even by the standards of a brutal war that has been going on for almost a year, killing tens of thousands of people, uprooting millions more and causing widespread destruction of Ukrainian cities.

A barrage of Russian missiles hit an apartment complex in the southeastern city of Dnipro on January 14, killing at least 45 civilians, including six children. On Wednesday, a government helicopter carrying the interior minister and other officials crashed into a building housing a kindergarten on the outskirts of Kyiv. The minister and a child on the ground were among the 14 people killed.

Zelenskyy, who mourned the victims on Saturday of the helicopter crash, vowed on Sunday that Ukraine would prevail in the war.

“We are united because we are strong. We are strong because we are united,” the Ukrainian leader said in a video address as he marked Ukraine Unity Day, which commemorates the day in 1919 when East and West Ukraine united.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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